TSMEE BULLETIN No.3 mid-May 2020


Download Bulletin in PDF format here ….


I’d planned for this to be the June issue, but such was the response to the “call to arms“ for material that earlier publication is now sensible before the content becomes too stale. There’s no doubt that members are keeping going !

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10th regarding a “roadmap” for the easing of CV-19 restrictions offered little hope of any changes to the Club’s position in the immediate future.


In the last issue, John Rowley told us about some of his lockdown activities. Unfortunately, a picture of him at the Food Bank he helps run arrived too late for inclusion. That omission is corrected here, together with a view of him getting down and dirty in happier times …

Member’s Doings

Lindsay Oliver sent this piece about restoring a piece of WWI trench art …

Sometime ago my wife Pat asked me if I would repair a model of a Bi-Plane which her Grandfather had brought back from the Great War. It was made from a .303 bullet and part of a brass shell case. Lockdown seemed a good time to do it.

The plane was in a sad state – the wings were bent, two wing struts were missing and there was no under-carriage. I started by squaring up the wings and made new wing struts from some electrical copper cable and turned a pair of wheels from some brass. I then used a 1/16 brazing rod to make the under-carriage and axle. Following this I then soft soldered it all together.

The repairs were all simply done so as to be in keeping with the plane‟s primitive style.

Martin Ashley, way over there in Alston, writes ….

First, the excuse for not sending anything in at the first time of asking – bizarrely, I find myself busier than ever during lockdown with workshop and 5” time as ever at a premium. I‟ve had to produce all sorts of on-line stuff for my academic commitments (from which I supposedly “retired” seven years ago!) It‟s very time-consuming editing film clips into on-line lectures!

On the railway side, both the East Lancashire and South Tynedale Railways are in lockdown, but then along come Network Rail who have taken me on as one of the “Dad‟s Army” of retired and heritage signallers. So, my new “office” is now Hexham signalbox as and when they want me and I‟m an essential worker, seven years into “retirement”! There has been a lot of rule-book swotting!

The big 5” push has been the new Running Shed in the garden. This short line started as a test track because visiting TSMEE entails a 90-mile round trip and I like to be reasonably confident that there‟s a reasonable chance of any engine I bring actually working before I set out.

However, my workshop opens perpendicular to our lane and I could only get a loco out by rolling onto the trailer and then pushing the trailer up a steepish slope to where the line actually starts. Not much easier than a 90-mile round trip really and the source of great mirth of those sensible club members who‟ve opted for the 0-gauge line! Hence the Running Shed which is reached by a new spur from the viaduct. The cat has been trained as a points operator and is most vigilant in this role, but will eventually be retired in favour of rodding to a ground frame.

Having installed one point and being also a GL5 member, it dawned on me that whilst I could not extend a long running line across the village green, I could build a few more sidings for GL5 shunting. That means, of course, having to build 40 wagons. Number 1 is nearing completion and it‟s taken ages because, unlike 2.5” gauge where you cheat and scribe lines on a single-piece side sheet, every plank is individually made and bolted. You would not believe how many bolts there are in a five-plank wagon! One almost down, only thirty-nine to go.

And finally, on the subject of engines that won‟t go, I am refitting the mechanical lubricator to my unique Ajax/Achilles 0-4-4. The displacement lubricator that the previous custodian fitted has been the source of endless grief as, somehow, oil gets into the manifold and then blocks up the blower ring. What a coincidence that the first TSMEE Lockdown Bulletin had an item on nice mechanical lubricators !

Peter Dawes has been juggling various tasks …

Work so far this lockdown,

First, the boiler for the 10 tonne Decauville drawn by Mike Pinder In “16mm Today”. The parts have been ready for some time and the final bushes for the safety valve, sandbox, dummy injector and regulator are now ready. Sometime this week they should be in place.

Second, the Potts Saw Table is almost finished but the inverter gave up on the Mill.

So third, the new motor mount and alterations to the DRO bracket are finished and a few packing shims to get it level. Then the main lights went off! Well known French word, quietly. Unlike people at work, Anne understands French better than me. New extra light ordered to get going as I need electrician to fit new light on garage ceiling. My ladder won‟t get me within 4 feet of the thing

Done on Wednesday morning, so major clean up

Fourth, lots of work on the garden railway, restoring buildings, laying new track on the extension and extending the main circuit dual gauge track. A new escape from Marcway will give better mainline running than a conversion of a gauge 1 point. I have made one elsewhere for a loco run-around. The 32mm line needed to swap sides so that has been built, the check rails are important here and I may in the long run go back to Marcway as their soldered trackwork allows closer and more secure check rails than using peck track chairs. The cost is about double altering track oneself , but given the time involved is good value

I hope the photos give a flavour of the line and given two gauges and out and back running plus a shunting puzzle there is a lot of action for the grandchildren and me when they can visit. Once the mill is running and light is available there are plenty of projects to finish.

This from Michael Dibb …

I have now got to an age when l find it harder to lift heavy weights. I used to store my locos in the house, but now find it harder to carry them out to the car.

I have reorganized my workshop to store them. I firstly bought some shelving to assemble, after that, to load the locos, l bought a motorcycle hydraulic scissor-lift stand. Then I made a wood table top with 3.5” and 5” gauge tracks and then bolted it to the stand table. So now I can load locos off the shelving, move them to the car and load with no lifting ( saves my back ) Also use it for running-on-air and steam testing with a rubber cover over the wood table. Jobs a good „n !!

Joe Gibbons has been very busy and tells all …

During the isolation I‟ve been jumping between a number of projects. Plenty to do so, as I get a little worn playing with one, I‟ve always got another to crack on with. So far since March I‟ve worked on rebuilding my Kawasaki Z400 which was stolen and burnt out back in 2016, progressing another motorcycle project (Kawasaki GPZ1000rx) which I‟ve had in bits for 3 years, lightly overhauling my 30‟s Raleigh framed bicycle I used when at university, and completing various maintenance tasks such as rebuilding brakes on yet another motorcycle, and freeing off a stuck fuel tank cap on, you guessed it, a 4th motorcycle. Some might say I have too many projects, too many bikes, too much to do. There are those in our street washing their cars every couple of days for something to alleviate the boredom. Not so in our house, we‟ve never stopped.

Except for this last week. I‟ve not been outside for the last 5 days, as there has been work to do elsewhere. That, and I‟ve run out of parts to fit to the little Z400. I thought I might get the material for axleboxes and axles ordered up for the Stirling F2 which some of you may have seen at the Unfinished Projects day we enjoyed before we all became temporary recluses. However, to do so meant starting up the CAD program, and tweaking the design of the trailing axleboxes before getting the dimensions to order from. Of course once on the CAD program things started to spiral and I just couldn‟t put it away without drawing up something else – valve-gear.

Now some of you know this locomotive is my first build and, not to do things by halves, there are no drawings. Nothing full-size, no drawings for a model, not even a 4mm scale drawing to use as a guide. In truth, the only drawing I have been able to find is a simple scale diagram published in “The Engineer “– November 28th 1913 in an article on the history of the Great Northern Railway.

This, combined with known dimensions of things such as wheel diameter, wheelbase, boiler dimensions (extracted from “Locomotives of the Great Northern Railway” by G.F. Bird), allowed me to build up the model in CAD, and have the frames erected as you saw at the Unfinished Projects day. As with many models, some of it ends up being carefully estimated guess-work based on other locomotives of the period, and the design policies of the Railway or the Designer which have been documented. For example, there are detailed engravings and drawings available for Stirling‟s 2-2-2 (7 ft single), 4-2-2 (8ft single) and even the 0-6-0 of the same era, but unfortunately not of the first new locomotive to be built at Doncaster Plant works, the 1868-built 0-4-2 (Stirling F2) No.18.

With this in mind, the valve-gear needs to be drawn from scratch. I know what type it should have – Stephenson‟s, with expansion links supported from beneath – much like the valve-gear shown in the engravings of the 0-6-0 of the same year. I also know what the cylinder size is, having designed them myself to allow for as large a diameter as possible given the space available.

With a few known dimensions and a few roughly estimated ones from the engraving mentioned above, I began drawing the various parts needed for the gear. Starting at the slide valve and working back, radius arm, expansion link, die block, eccentric rod, eccentric. Then drawing the weighshaft, expansion link suspension link, reach rod, reverser stand and the reverser lever itself. Working in 3D and putting the many parts together into an assembly, I was able to “turn the locomotive over” as it were and see exactly what happens with port opening and closing in relation to the piston. I then adjusted various settings, again and again, over the course of the week to get to a valve-gear which both myself and Dad are happy with. I‟ve yet to run the numbers through a valve gear program but early signs suggest it looks somewhere near right.

My Dad, Eddie, has given a huge amount of help in the initial designing of the valve-gear. I didn‟t know a huge amount about it when I started drawing, but he helped explain what the port openings should look like at various points in the piston‟s stroke so that I could adjust the various parts to get the right answers. I use the term “right answers‟ loosely as there are no right answers, just good and better ones. Various Railway Companies used different amounts of lead steam for example, and quite clearly they all worked, just some more efficiently than others.

That‟s enough talk, here‟s the fruits of my labour in CAD. The valve-gear parts aren‟t finished, but they are correct dimensionally. They need detailing and some, like the eccentric rod need redrawing as three separate parts, but for now they‟ll do.

Web stuff

Steve Lowe found this on YouTube …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAvurSjBVW8 .
No Elfin Safe Tea, just strong coffee. Fred Dibnah would have loved it.
If you like American Mountain Railroading, try this


Thanks and credits to those who took the time and trouble to share their activities. Keep it coming – big or small, engineering or not.
You may have noticed that I’ve finally mastered the sizing and placing of pictures to make better use of space. I hope it doesn’t reduce their impact. The savings on coloured ink is another matter.

Contact info …
  • Newsletter/Bulletin Editor – Mike Maguire – mike.maguire@btinternet.com
  • Club Secretary – Linda Nicholls – lindanic@sky.com – 01 670 816072
  • Website – www.tsmee.co.uk Webmaster – John Rowley – webmaster@tsmee.co.uk
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